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The Most Brutally Honest NRL Formguide You'll Read

Ah, March. A month when fans dare to dream. Well, stop it now. Your team has no hope. Here's the bad news.

This is why the only trophy your NRL club will win this year will be made of timber.

Brisbane Broncos
Dynamic men jumping around to absolutely no effect at all... yep, that's the Broncos. Image: Getty.

It is now 13 seasons since the Broncos jogged a grand final victory lap and it will be 14 soon enough. Their halves, Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford, are brilliant but erratic, their forwards are built like bricks but much less smart, and new coach Anthony Seibold says that breaking up with Souths was like leaving a girlfriend he still likes. Rebound relationships never end well.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... Seibold will somehow gel this team like Wayne Bennett no longer could, and they'll win the comp.

CANBERRA RAIDERS
It's Ricky's way or the Huawei. Image: Getty

It's a scientifically proven fact that every Ricky Stuart-coached team gets worse every year until it explodes in a fiery expletive-laden ball of bile.  Moving Jack Wighton to the crucial number 6 position after he narrowly escaped jail for a drunken rampage will only accelerate that process.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... The Raiders will recapture their 2016 form and be that dangerous team in the bottom half of the eight come finals time.

CANTERBURY BULLDOGS
Josh Jackson spent a lot of last year with this sort of look on his face, and will again in 2019. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Funny story: your correspondent once tipped the Doggies to run last in a serious season preview for a sports magazine. This was in 2008. Hate mail flooded in, and it was not politely worded. Guess what happened? Yep, the same thing that'll happen to this pathetic rabble this year too.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... We honestly can't see them doing better than the 12th they finished last year. Any better with this inexperienced outfit and coach Dean Pay will have excelled.

CRONULLA SHARKS
Paul Gallen enjoyed this round 21 loss to the Sea Eagles last year so much, he thought he'd squeeze in one final season.

Everything in the world went wrong at the Sharks over the summer, or as they call that in the Shire "just another off-season". Paul Gallen is now 143 years old, the club will be paying its fines for salary cap and other infringements forever, and this year's football season will make that look like a party.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... Their strong forward pack could take the Sharkies into the top four.

GOLD COAST TITANS
"The frikken heck", or "TFH" as they're better known, are one of the more appropriate club sponsors. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

An essential part of the training regime at the Titans is standing, half bent over, with your hands on your thighs. This has been scientifically proven to be the best body position in which to digest yet another devastating loss, and as you can see, the players have nailed it. They'll have plenty of chances to assume the position year too.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... Their young halves look quite exciting, there's a bit of Qld Origin in the forward pack, and they could actually improve dramatically and finish as high as 5th or 6th.

MANLY SEA EAGLES
Oh Manly, you idiots. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Guess who's back? Back again? Dessie's back! Tell a friend! Dessie's back, Dessies back, Dessie's back... OK enough of the Eminem. Yes, premiership-winning Manly player AND coach Des Hasler is back. But you know the old saying: You can never go home again. This is going to be absolutely brutal for everyone.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... A team with a pair of Trbojevics and Daly Cherry-Evans is always a danger. Manly can make the eight, but won't threaten from there.

MELBOURNE STORM
Cam Smith loses a football game but wins silliest pose of the month award late last season. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Surely they're done. Surely Cameron Smith is too old and the Bellamy effect is finally wearing off and the retirement of Billy Slater will be too much to overcome. We don't actually believe that for a minute, but we choose to believe it because it's fun to think about.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... They'll make yet another grand final. Their forwards are monsters and the halves pairing of Croft and Munster is a cracker.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Kalyn Ponga morosely gazes upon the kikuyu, wishing it was a more favourable form of turf like buffalo or couch. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

It's time. The Knights have been slowly rebuilding after triple wooden spoons from 2015-17, and this is the year they finally become a force again. Sadly, sport rarely follows such obvious narratives. Newcastle are officially doomed.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... Switching Kalyn Ponga to number 6 will prove a masterstroke and coach Nathan Brown will have a premiership threat on his hands.

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
Cowboys players play the "my disappointed face is better then yours" game after yet another loss last year. The guy on the right won. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

No Johnathan Thurston, no hope. Why say more?

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... We know those huge forwards will go forward. On the back of them, it's not impossible that Michael Morgan could steer the Cows all the way to the top four.

PARRAMATTA EELS
Michael Jennings wonders where it all went wrong last year. He'll soon be asking the question again. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Parra will have its beautiful new stadium ready in place for the round 6 clash with the Wests Tigers. But if you think a new footy ground will solve the woes of the NRL's eternal bad news story, you really don't know anything about the Eels.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... We're big fans of halfback Mitchell Moses, and maybe he'll find a way to save them from consecutive wooden spoons. But we're far from confident.

PENRITH PANTHERS
Panthers players stare at the grass a lot. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

We've never understood why Ivan Cleary is so keen to coach his son Nathan. This is something parents do in the Under 12s. But in the NRL? This will surely end weirdly. Meanwhile, we've heard that one or two Panthers players actually trained in the off-season instead of making lewd tapes. But not enough of them.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... Many are tipping the Panthers for a huge year, and we think they could be right. They do look very balanced and should make the top four.

ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Tyson Frizell tries to count his studs, then realises he's wearing blades. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images).

The Dragons will play Gareth Widdop at fullback in round one, a sure sign that their season is already in chaos after an off-season marred by all sorts of unfortunate side issues. The Dragons actually look balanced, but recent history shows they can crumble like no other team.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... OK, we actually think they're a genuine top eight team and a serious premiership threat if the new halves pairing of Norman and Hunt works out.

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Angus Crichton is thinking a lot about the first two letters of the team sponsor after losing to the Roosters. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Forget it. Wayne Bennett is the new coach is and he is officially yesterday's man.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... The Rabbitohs can improve on last year's prelim final run and make the big dance.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Jake Friend ponders which bits of his heavily inked body he can get a new tattoo on.  (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

They won last year. No team has gone back-to-back since 1992-93. Forget it.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... They'll bloody win, won't they? Because on paper, they're definitely the strongest line-up in the NRL, and Luke Keary is a genius.

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
The Warriors do this a lot. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The NRL's most consistently inconsistent and predictably unpredictable team will finally have a break-through season and be predictably, consistently awful.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... They'll somehow finishing an honest 9th or 10th despite the loss of Shaun Johnson to the Sharks.

WESTS TIGERS
Luke Brooks (right) finished second in the overall Dally M last year, and third in the Tigers' dejected stance awards. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

All off-season, new coach Michael Maguire has punished the Tigers with a brutal summer regime of standing with hands-on-hips looking dejected. The entire squad is said to be ready to unleash the dejected stance almost every week in the 2019 premiership.

Our predicted finish... last.

But if all goes well... Led by Luke Brooks and the experience of Farah and Marshall, the Tigers have enough class in the forwards and outside backs to sneak into 7th or 8th.